Vincent left the mental hospital in Saint-Rémy in May 1890 and headed north to Auvers-sur-Oise, where several artists were already residing.
Auvers offered Vincent the peace and quiet he needed, while being close enough to Paris for him to visit his brother Theo. There was a doctor there too, Paul Gachet, who could keep an eye on him. Vincent quickly befriended Gachet, himself an amateur painter, who advised Van Gogh to devote himself completely to his art. He did precisely that, painting the gardens and wheatfields around the village at a feverish rate.
Vincent threw himself entirely into his painting in this period, completing virtually a work a day. His health seemed to be improving, too.
Vincent visited Theo and his family in Paris in early July 1890, where he learned that his brother was thinking of quitting his job at the art dealers’ he had managed over many years.
Theo wanted to set up his own business, which inevitably represented a certain financial risk. Vincent returned to Auvers a worried man.
'Once back here I too still felt very saddened, and had continued to feel the storm that threatens you also weighing upon me. What can be done – you see I usually try to be quite good-humoured, but my life, too, is attacked at the very root, my step also is faltering. '
Both Theo and his wife Jo wrote to Vincent to reassure him. But financial uncertainty and fear that his nervous attacks might return took a heavy toll on Van Gogh’s health. He could not shake off his gloom about the future.
'. . . knowing clearly what I wanted I’ve painted another three large canvases since then. They’re immense stretches of wheatfields under turbulent skies, and I made a point of trying to express sadness, extreme loneliness. You’ll see this soon, I hope – for I hope to bring them to you in Paris as soon as possible, since I’d almost believe that these canvases will tell you what I can’t say in words, what I consider healthy and fortifying about the countryside.'
No matter how 'healthy and fortifying' Vincent found the countryside, it was to no avail. His illness and his uncertainty about the future became too much.
On 27 July 1890, he walked into a wheatfield and shot himself in the chest with a pistol. The wounded artist staggered back to his room at the Auberge Ravoux. Theo rushed from Paris to Auvers and was present when his brother died of his injuries on 29 July.
Vincent was buried at Auvers on 30 July 1890. His legacy was a large body of art works: over 850 paintings and almost 1,300 works on paper.